Guestpost. If this becomes a normal thing I’m imagining the logo being a sloth wearing a tinfoil hat.
Also, thinking out loud about the two week maintenance thing here because it’s relevant to homesteading systems.
Time saved in lawncare is time you can prepare… FOR CATACLYSM
So I want to get to two weeks a year in home maintenance. What is home maintenance?
For my purposes, it’s everything to keep up the house EXCEPT for laundry, dishes, and other housekeeping tasks like cleaning the bathroom.
So painting, lawnmowing, appliance repair, cleaning out gutters, trimming foliage. Deck repair. The stuff where either you do it or the house rots
What is two weeks? I’m going with 14 days, and 8 hour workdays. So 112 work hours a year. Round to 120 for slack.
What does the average yard look like? Grass, with shrubs near the house, vinyl siding, wooden deck, uncovered gutters
What are the constraints? What’s the problem with regular script?
So you can cut maintenance down to almost nothing if you do the Texas thing and plant cacti into a gravel bed. Or just pave the plot over with concrete
On the other side, my Grandma and her partner are doing something with the house every week. Mowing, trimming, edging, seeding, weeding, decorating…
So we want to resemble the “controlled chaos” of the American Lawn, and preserve some of the functions, but get rid of the constant time investment.
If you leave a standard lawn for a few weeks to vacation, hope you have someone to mow
Two main themes I am drawing on. Cost center vs. value center and the “batch it, automate it, simplify it” article about computer optimization I read maybe 4 years ago
My market farmer guy says he likes weeding. But weeding makes him no money, so he tries to do as little weeding as possible. So he goes upstream of that problem and covers his garden beds to stop weed seeds from even getting in. That kinda thing.
In this context, that would look like buying shrubs that only grow 5 feet tall, so you don’t even have to trim them.
Or changing the lawn grass with moss or creeping thyme, some plant that is soft like grass but does not grow tall
So at the high level, we’re looking at taking anything with constant maintenance requirements and changing it out for a series of long term, “set and forget” projects
You can either work on the house all day… pay people to work on the house (and then just manage people all day)… Or design systems that structurally require less upkeep.
This is where the Boomer Mindset whispers “sprinkler system” and I reply, “make your lawn not need watering”
Several of these problems are not my problems because of house and land choices I was able to make. (God is good. Still weird to do)
So we don’t get a ton of sun. Lot of the lawn is moss or clover already. Brick siding so a single hailstorm won’t take out half the exterior
Gutters are covered but still need to be brushed off from time to time.
Already had to replace a bunch of stuff while moving in, those things should be good for a decade
As an aside, this is why businesses sell “solutions”. Whatever I end up with is going to follow some design principles but those same principles would require different implementations on any other property
This is also why commercial properties all look the same. Fuck hills and thinking and shit. Level the ground, put up Standard Commercial Installation #4, with local zone adjustment #30-B. We paid a smart guy to think about this once and hell if we’re adding 40% to the cost of construction to do that again.
They already have a mulch schedule, shrub list, building location and style preference, etc.
Here I’m thinking Pal’s burgers or Walmart. Or X office property chain
So we have the high level idea sketched out. Get a ‘lawn adjacent’ exterior with 20% of the upkeep or less. Do that by replacing or reworking high maintenance sections. Trade money and brains for time
That’s going to look like
shelling out for a metal roof,
staining the deck instead of painting it,
rerouting some gutters outside and filling in spots that hold water
Using dwarf shrubs and perennials instead of tall shrubs and annuals
Sealing and treating surfaces and cracks before they get damaged
Using clover, thyme, moss and mulch instead of grass seed
Then once the maintenance is knocked down UNDER my limit, add a couple fun things back in. For instance, I want to swap out one of my fence panels for a privacy screen of bamboo
Gonna pick the kind that clumps up instead of spreading, and make sure to trim it as it needs
Also got to work with the neighbors to get some trees off the fence line
Contrast with the property management style of apartment owners. You have a couple guys doing small repair and maintenance full time, hire a lawn care company, and try to never call the plumber.
Or with Grandma maintenance, where you’re retired and the lawn is your part time job.
Or with the “don’t step on that half of the deck” style of people that are in a property they are unable or unwilling to maintain
In a homestead context, I would be looking at different setups at different acreages.
We have room for a chicken coop and a vegetable garden. Those can be done by hand easy enough.
10 acres, you want a tractor and probably some fruit trees. Goal would be reducing the amount of acreage you have to handle at any one point in time.
100 acres, you’re into forest management. Get some chickens and wildlife, build a trout pond or something. Pecan trees.
I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately but have only gotten as far as sprinkler systems for garden and greenhouse.
Let’s start small. I have yet to keep a single plant alive.
My landlord is out and I’ve been watering his plants for him.
Turns out they need more water than you’d think.
You have to stand there with the hose for, like, a minute.
Anyway, I propose this as a recurring blog topic.
When you don’t have time to write, you drop links and rant to me on the phone and I take notes.
Don’t bother telling me you like the idea of doing no work on this project, I already know.
Yeah, I’m at the point where I need to write a book but don’t quite have space
Same, but I can still put out low-effort blog posts at the moment.
You’re welcome to Guest Poast this one and I can grab another later
Also, re: watering, most properties are designed to shed most of the rainfall as runoff. And a lot of plants are planted and set up to require constant watering.
Some places, you cant own a rain barrel or dig a pond, because THE STATE owns the rain from the sky